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Women's jobs more at risk from AI, surveys show.

Women’s jobs more at risk from artificial intelligence

30% of what employees do today can be automated by 2030 – a trend accelerated by generative AI, a US study by consultancy McKinsey shows.  Pew Research Center says a greater share of women (21%) than men (17%) are likely to see the most exposure to AI. Generative AI is enhancing the way STEM, creative, and business and legal professionals work rather than eliminating a significant number of jobs outright, according to McKinsey. 

About a fifth of all workers have high-exposure jobs; women, Asian, college-educated and higher-paid workers are more exposed. But those in the most exposed industries are more likely to say AI will help more than hurt them personally, Pew Research Center says in a report.

Office support, customer service, and food service employment could continue to decline. Workers in lower-wage jobs are up to 14 times more likely to need to change occupations than those in highest-wage positions, and most will need additional skills to do so successfully. Women are 1.5 times more likely to need to move into new occupations than men, according to the McKinsey study.

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.McKinsey findings:

  • Federal investment to address climate and infrastructure, as well as structural shifts, will also alter labour demand. The net-zero transition will shift employment away from oil, gas, and automotive manufacturing and into green industries for a modest net gain in employment. Infrastructure projects will increase demand in construction, which is already short almost 400 000 workers today. We also see increased demand for healthcare workers as the population ages, plus gains in transportation services due to e-commerce.
  • An additional 12 million occupational transitions may be needed by 2030. As people leave shrinking occupations, the economy could reweight toward higher-wage jobs. 
  • The United States will need workforce development on a far larger scale as well as more expansive hiring approaches from employers. Employers will need to hire for skills and competencies rather than credentials, recruit from overlooked populations (such as rural workers and people with disabilities), and deliver training that keeps pace with their evolving needs.

The report notes that the nature of work has changed with the pandemic as many workers have stuck with remote or hybrid models and employers have sped up their adoption of automation technologies. 

“More recently, the accelerated development of generative AI, with its advanced natural language capabilities, has extended the possibilities for automation to a much wider set of occupations.”

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“Across a majority of occupations (employing 75% of the workforce), the pandemic accelerated trends that could persist through the end of the decade. Occupations that took a hit during the downturn are likely to continue shrinking over time. 

“These include customer-facing roles affected by the shift to e-commerce and office support roles that could be eliminated either by automation or by fewer people coming into physical offices. Declines in food services, customer service and sales, office support, and production work could account for almost ten million (more than 84 percent) of the 12 million occupational shifts expected by 2030.”

“By contrast, occupations in business and legal professions, management, healthcare, transportation, and STEM were resilient during the pandemic and are poised for continued growth. These categories are expected to see fewer than one million occupational shifts by 2030.”

Highlights from the Pew Research study:

  • In 2022, 19% of American workers were in jobs that are the most exposed to AI, in which the most important activities may be either replaced or assisted by AI.
  • 23% of workers have jobs that are the least exposed to AI, in which the most important activities are farther from the reach of AI. Other workers, nearly six-in-ten in all, are likely to have varying levels of exposure to AI.
  • Jobs with a high level of exposure to AI tend to be in higher-paying fields where a college education and analytical skills can be a plus.

Certain groups of workers have higher levels of exposure to AI

  • Those with more education: Workers with a bachelor’s degree or more (27%) are more than twice as likely as those with a high school diploma only (12%) to see the most exposure.
  • Women: A greater share of women (21%) than men (17%) are likely to see the most exposure to AI. This is because of differences in the types of jobs held by men and women.
  • Asian and White: Asian (24%) and White (20%) workers are more exposed than Black (15%) and Hispanic (13%) workers.
  • Higher-wage workers: In 2022, workers in the most exposed jobs earned $33 per hour, on average, compared with $20 in jobs with the least amount of exposure.

Workers seem more hopeful than concerned about the impact of AI on their jobs

  • A recent Pew Research Center survey finds that many U.S. workers in more exposed industries do not feel their jobs are at risk – they are more likely to say AI will help more than hurt them personally. For instance, 32% of workers in information and technology say AI will help more than hurt them personally, compared with 11% who say it will hurt more than it helps.

The Pew says AI could replace, at least to a degree, the tasks “getting information” and “analyzing data or information,” or it could help with “working with computers.” 

“These are also among the key tasks for judicial law clerks and web developers, and they are more exposed to AI than other workers. However, AI alone cannot “assist and care for others” or “perform general physical activities.” Thus, nannies – for whom these are essential activities – are less exposed to AI”, the Pew concludes.

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